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3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  389 ratings  ·  59 reviews
The darkest secrets of World War II! finally revealed. The number one bestseller returns with his most explosive book to date.
Paperback, 406 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 2012)
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Bourne's latest book takes the reader into the past, as ther Second World War rages on in Europe and America oscilates about joining or sticking on the sidelines. Women and children from Oxford University go missing; a trail leading to homes on the campus of the illustrious Yale University. What seems like a simple outreaching of compassion to help the women and children ends up being something a great deal more sinister, something that could turn the War on its head.

The book examines some inter
The publicity for this book promised "the most explosive wartime thriller since Fatherland". That's an odd claim, since 'Fatherland' wasn't set during the war but after it, in an alternative world. In fact, however, what we get is damp squib: ill thought out, unconvincing and disappointing.

It starts with a certain degree of promise. The opening is well told, our hero, battling his ruined body, rowing on the Cherwell in Oxford and the hook - his wife's flight from him with their young child - see
I do read thrillers and mysteries although not as often as some other genres and Sam Bourne is not a thriller writer that I have read before. This was chosen recently for a book club reading group that I am a member of, otherwise I doubt it was a title I would have selected myself. Whilst it was a reasonable read it was not gripping or exciting enough to have me rushing to read more of this author's work.

Set in the early stages of WWII with plenty of historical detail and well portrayed characte
Mark Isaacs
In Pantheon, Sam Bourne delivers a stirring indictment of distorted theories of racial superiority, alas still subscribed to today by uneducated white supremacists as well as many Americans and native Europeans who resent the influx of foreign workers into their nations. Unfortunately, there is little else that is stirring in the book, a run-of-the-mill story about an emotionally scarred and physically damaged Englishman's search for the wife who takes their young son and abandons him at the ons ...more
Warning - some minor spoilers.

This is the first Sam Bourne book, and after chatter about his earlier efforts I was unsure what to expect . . .

Bourne's style started out lumpy and "quaint", but not in a cute 1930's style, while dealing with the plot in Great Britain, but as soon as the action moves to America the book definitely comes alive and the pace quickens up and smooths out.

Arguably a good WWII thriller, with an unusual angle. However, for me one of the best bits of the book was the Append
It took a long long time to get going and when it did, it wasn't that great. I couldn't quite believe that Zennor's family would leave like that.
Christopher Everest
I was slightly put off this book to begin with - in that I prefer my Thrillers to be set in the present day whereas this is set in 1940. However it soon pulled me in. I enjoyed the historical sense as much as I appreciated the tension. I admit I did check the end of the book to make sure I could live with the ending - Strange but true - and it is a peculiar trait of my reading that if I identify with a character or a relationship I have to basically have a happy ending. Despite recognising that ...more
Graeme Stokes
The Author's note at the end of the novel clearly explains in detail the intrigue and truths to be found in the pages the reader has just finished.

Eugenic's as the basis of the novel and the greatest intellectuals all revered to this day such as the great writer George Bernard Shaw, philosopher Bertrand Russell, father of the welfare state William Beveridge, the pioneer of birth control Marie Stopes and lauded economist John Maynard Keyes and their belief in the study of methods of improving the
David Hull
My first Sam Bourne book. Reasonably enjoyable, though I found the first twenty or so pages rather confusing. I found the main character, James Zennor - the 'hero' - to be a thoroughly despisable, narcissistic, fellow, so, when he did something potentially heroic, I still didn't really like him that much. As for the introduction of the Taylor Hastings character, that seemed a bit incongruous - I wouldn't have missed his inclusion at all were it not for the titillating edge his activities provide ...more
The darkest secrets of World War II… finally revealed. Europe is ablaze. America is undecided about joining the fight against Nazism. And James Zennor, a brilliant, troubled, young Oxford don is horrified. He returns one morning from rowing to discover that his wife has disappeared with their young son, leaving only a note declaring her continuing love. A frantic search through wartime England leads James across the Atlantic and to one of America’s greatest universities, its elite clubs and secr ...more
SJH (A Dream of Books)
After having loved all of Sam Bourne's previous books, 'Pantheon' was somewhat of a disappointment. That's not to say that it was bad but it just wasn't the usual thrill ride that I've come to expect from him.

I didn't connect with the main character James Zennor from the outset. After having been injured during the war, James is deeply traumatised but unable to open up to his wife who takes their young son and leaves him at the start of the book. They go to seek refuge at Yale in America and Jam
Nguyen Phuong
One autumn afternoon in the mid-60s, Ron Rosenbaum, a recently arrived freshman at Yale, was summoned to the university's Payne Whitney gym and instructed by a group of men in crisp white coats to strip off. They then attached large metal plates to his spine, placed him against a wall and took a series of photographs. He was told this "posture photo" was a routine part of the freshman induction process, intended to identify students whose weak posture needed remedial work.

Rosenbaum was not alone
I would ideally like to give this book 2 and a half stars.

The problem I found here, was that the main character, James, was just so predictable. He was supposed to be a Dr of psychology, yet is constantly losing his temper. It all starts the same way, he goes to talk to someone, doesn't get his way and quickly descends into anger and gets thrown out of where he is. Every time without fail.

I also found it a rather boring book. It promises that it's set in a war torn world, yet, the war takes ver
Denise Flynn
I enjoyed this book. It wasn't fast moving, not at all, but this didn't stop me enjoying the book. The main character was described in detail and presented initially as someone who had a series of flaws but as the book progressed I moved toward empathy with his character. The 'twist' came late on but was worth waiting for. If you want a page turner then this isn't our book, but if you want an interesting read, give it a go.
Well written, as in clearly expressed, easy to understand, clearly structured, no hiccups. The only negative, for me, about the writing, is that he doesn't vary the pace much: he stumbles over the fast action, exciting bits. That sort of things is hard to write anyway. The other thing is the over-explaining but that's got to be better than those authors who just assume we're with them.

I do think there is a mismatch between :
- The plot as it actually is
- The choice of words used to describe it as
Eleni Arvaniti
It is a nice easy reading story, although in the middle of the book it gives the sense that it gets a little bit too long. In an attempt to keep the sense of the mystery the author complicates the things unnecessary and unreasonably make it longer to the end, but not interesting enough.
W. Nicol
A well-written believable account of a flawed hero battling against the entrenched forces undermining Britain's battle against the Nazis
Ajin Jayan
Not his best book. beginning is a drag. the final chapters more exciting.
Andrew Bullock
You don't need to be a literary genius to write a good thriller but you do need to give your readers a protagonist they can engage with and some dramatic tension. Unfortunately, Robert Bourne pulls off neither of these tricks and the result is probably the most boring novel I've read since I made the mistake of trying Tom Clancy in the mid-nineties.

What makes it worse is that his handling of the interesting - but sadly underdeveloped - sub-plot involving English Fascists and pro-German spies sh
Rob Osment
This book started off promisingly, but quickly unravelled into a messy, disjointed thriller. The plot was either predictable or wildly implausible, with clunky twists and rushed setting. The main character lacked any qualities that made you sympathise with them or take an interest in their welfare. The attempts to bring credence to the plot are attempted through reference to real life events or publications, but these merely act to make the story even more unlikely and lack coherence. One of the ...more
Paul Naughton
What a dissapointing book, It doesn't know what it wants to be. I get the impression the author has two directions in mind and couldn't decide which to chose so made a fudge of it. There is some merit in the premis but the writing is not up to scratch. It is unclear if we are meant to like or loath the lead character and there is a complete lack of depth to anyone in the novel. I could have predicted the outcome from the point the story changes tack and his family go missing. Have passed onto m ...more
Gareth Ebbon
Probably the worst of Sam Bourne's books.
Les Wilson
I struggled through this book and found it pointless.
Gripping start, with a beautiful description of the central character's early morning row which brings in his appalling injuries and starts the unravelling of a complex plot. He arrives back home to find his wife and baby have vanished and this prompts a hunt that takes us through the mindset of Oxford (and American) academics in the 1930s and back to the Spanish Civil War.
It's extremely well-researched and written although some of the characters lack definition and I'm now looking at this write
Jane Edward

This book was on loan from my brother-in-law. Not normally the sort of thing I read, but as I didn't want to offend him, thought I'd best give it a go before returning it. I was actually pleasantly surprised. The story held my interest and although there were a few minor inconsistencies, it kept me guessing until the end. I would say, however, that it did fizzle out a little in the last few chapters. The storyline had so much potential but the ending was a little tree and safe. Not a complete wa
Abha Thapliyal
Takes a while to catch up with the main plot- a little different from Sam Bourne's usual choice of plots. The heart of the story becomes garbed under nonessential details and descriptions that might bore at first- however the central plot is an amazing conspiracy theory that you will love when you eventually piece it together. Good story line, characters might not be very inspiring but historical details are really interesting.
Greer Andjanetta
A story which started slow but became more in interesting as it progressed. It involves an English husband/father who suffers from wounds suffered in the Spanish civil war causing his wife to leave him, taking their son with her. His search takes him to America just before they enter the war where he becomes involved with the eugenics movement so popular at the time. A satisfactory ending adds to the enjoyment of this book.
Pulkit Sachdeva
A decent read. You are always expecting something explosive as you turn the page, but it never materializes. The conspiracy in the end is a damp squib and the villains are, well, kind of comic. But the aspect where Sam Bourne focuses on the characters in nice. The way he treats the central characters keeps the reader interested throughout the book.
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Sam Bourne is the literary pseudonym of Jonathan Freedland, an award-winning British journalist and broadcaster. He has written a weekly column for The Guardian since 1997, having previously served as the paper's Washington correspondent. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The New Republic, and The J ...more
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